Investing in People

This is tricky, right? 

The legislation, introduced by Michigan Representative John Conyers, would create a $5.5 billion fund, $4 billion earmarked for the employment of people between 16 and 24, $1.5 billion for job training grants. There are no pay-fors. It would ask a Congress that is dead-set against “big government” to employ people, with the help of big government.

Yet the bill’s Senate sponsor is Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. That matters quite a lot in June 2015. On Thursday morning, Sanders joined Conyers on a visit to the H.O.P.E. Project in southeast Washington. The presidential candidate toured a small but busy office, located above a strip mall, that had successfully trained 375 people in the IT field, and seen 315 of those people get jobs that paid an average of $42,000—far above the median income locally. Ninety-three percent of graduates were African-American, and when Sanders entered a computer room—pausing to greet every student—the only white faces belonged to journalists and staffers. The room was crowded with TV cameras and iPhones, some pointed at four words on the wall: “HARVARD OF THE HOOD.”

Because people fuck up, and disappoint you, and go back on drugs and stuff, and people sometimes no matter how hard you train them and how well they seem to be doing just crater. People are weak, and fail, and can’t be trusted. 

Right? I mean, it’s not like you can assume they’ll do with an opportunity what YOU would do. It’s not like they’re like you, and would appreciate a chance, and work hard, and struggle sometimes but ultimately turn out okay. It’s not like they’re like you at all. They live in the ‘hood, anyway. 

Better to spend our billions in places where there is no chance of a surprise of any kind: On cops and guns and jails. We know how those work, after all. We always know how those turn out.